The United Nations has responded to wide-spread speculations surrounding the Special Envoy for the Western Sahara Staffan de Mistura’s alleged “absence.”
In a press briefing on Thursday, August 17, Antonio Guterres’ spokesman stated that “De Mistura has visited all the parties concerned more than once since he took office, as evidenced by the Secretary-General’s reports on Western Sahara.”
“In particular, he visited Morocco twice, as well as other regional parties. He also invited all the parties concerned, as well as members of the Group of Friends of Western Sahara, to informal bilateral consultations at UN headquarters in March,” said Stéphane Dujarric.
“The Personal Envoy will brief the Security Council in October, shortly after the publication of the Secretary-General’s report on Western Sahara. De Mistura’s next visits to the region will be announced in due course,” he concluded.
On Wednesday evening, the UN brushed aside questions about De Mistura’s planned visits to the region.
Algerian media L’Expression recently initiated speculation surrounding the envoy making an unofficial, personal visit to Morocco while on holiday.
“Could Antonio Guterres have found no better place on the planet to spend his vacations than Fez?” wondered the media. Outraged by the fake news, UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Stéphane Dujarric wrote to the online newspaper, condemning the false accusation, and underlining that he was “saddened to see that the article relayed totally false information.”
“The Secretary-General is indeed on holiday, but in Portugal and the United States, and not in Fez, if the photos published were indeed taken in Fez, they were taken in November 2022, during the Secretary General’s participation in the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Forum, clarified the spokesperson.
On May 22, the UN denied rumors of Staffan de Mistura’s resignation, stating that he “plans to maintain and intensify contacts with all the international parties concerned,” adding: “Broader contacts in a variety of formats, including regional visits and bilateral opportunities are expected.”
The UN envoy last visited the region in July and September 2022, starting with Morocco and then in Algeria, Mauritania and the Tindouf camps.